page by Bill Pagel
Review by Eeuwe Zijlstra and Rients Alberts
Dylan tonight for the first time in his entire career performing in
Amsterdam. Playing in the Heineken Music Hall (where Neil Young play 6
months ago). The reviews wheren't all that good at all, so we had some
doubt with this show, but we went. Better to go than not to go to a Dylan
And a good show it was!
Down along the cove was a very good beginning in a hall where the sound
had a really warm touch. The band was right from the beginning in a good
straight way of playing. Dylan's voice was clear.
It's all over now, baby blue was quit a surprise, and the band played it
More stuck to the version of the cd was Cry a while, nice song with the
known difference in tempo. The bandmemembers didn't seem to communicate
very much at this moment.
Desolation row was very beautiful and much different as the known acoustic
version of this song from the last years shows. It's alright ma I'm only
bleeding was performed with much routine but with a lack of spirit.
Girl from the north country was surprising and one of the great highlights
of the show. Completely different arrangement. Completely showed in its
Things have changed once again missed its spirit.
Highway 61! First time the band began to show up a drive with solos from
both Freddy and Larry. The crowd got excited here...
Had to find our way through bye and bye to got to the real well performed
Tweedle dee & tweedle dum with once again great solos from both
guitarists, followed by a great great love minus zero!!
After a quite boring Honest with me (too much of the same) came the
surprising Every grain of sand. Well performed and should be performed
more... In Summer days the crowd went wild and brought us back to the
Charlie Sexton period with Dylan being busy with his band.
After a longer as usual break three more songs were performed...a very
nice cat's in the well with a very creative arrangement.
And then Like a rolling stone. We wonder why this song is still being
played in this way. Enough about it.
All along the watch tower had a very powerful beginning, which was
completely gone when Dylan begin to sing.
Good show after all, heard some people saying it was better then
Dusseldorf and definitely better then Hamburg...
At the introduction of Larry Dylan mentioned the pretty girls in
Amsterdam...we wonder what he will do tonight.
It was nice to see that the band communicated with each other a lot and
that Dylan left its piano more times to talk to Tony Garnier...obviously
in a good mood, though he seemed not to take notice of its audience.
Tomorrow one more promising show here in Amsterdam...hoping he will
sometimes play guitar again then!
Review by Joop Bekkema
What could you expect after a superb concert in Dusseldorf. I only hoped
that Amsterdam would be just as good. I am afraid this was not the case.
First of all, the acoustics in this hall are not as good as one can expect
from a Music Hall. The sound came to us as an indefinite wall of music.
The mixture was far from being perfect. Bob's piano had disappeared from
the spectrum and the same for his harp every now and then. The guitars
were very loud but Tony's bass was distant. All was quite different from
the sound from the old Philipshalle in Dusseldorf. The band was not as
tight as the concert before. This could well be caused by acoustical
problems. Was it a bad concert then? No, certainly not. The setlist was
quite different from the previous concert. Starting with a very strong
Down along the Cove, for me the ideal opener. Freddy and Larry taking
turns in short solo's. Even better than the Dusseldorf version. After
that came a nice It's all over now baby blue. A new arrangement with the
lines following each other without the usual short instrumental intervals.
I don't know which one of the versions I like best. During Cry a while,
the band lost it's tightness mainly because the drummer failed to lead the
band into the two different rythms. It's a superb number bur very
difficult to play.Desolation row was different from the versions I had
been listening to in the past. The Dylantree Liverpool VCD version of
Desolation Row in my opinion is far better than the one they played
tonight. It's all right ma was good as usual. Girl of the North Country
was brought very subtile and very tender. Great song. Highway 61 was good
and massive. Solid Rock and Roll. Bye and Bye was a good relexation after
all the violence in the previous song. Tweedle dee was another song that
was better than the Dusseldorf version. Love minus zero was again a
highlight. Beautifully played and sung. Honest with me was a bit ruined by
Bob because he postponed the last words of the sentence so long. The band
obviously suffered from that. I was hoping for Every grain of sand. And
there were the first notes, so unmistakingly belonging to this beautiful
song. Applause by the crowd after recognising it. A good and solid Summer
days closed the first part. As encores, a very good version ofl Cat's in
the well, immediately followed by a great Like a Rolling Stone. A standard
All along the watchtower finished the evening. Freddy was not as good as
the concert before. Larry was great as always. He seems to be a bit more
present than in the past. I left Amsterdam with mixed feelings. Positive
were the nice setlist, with the best opener one can wish, the very
enthousiastic band with the director in a very good mood (during the band
presentation he even mentioned the beautiful ladies which were present in
the hall) and the many T-shirts I could buy outside after the concert.
Negative was the below average sound the band did produce, mainly due to
acoustics and mixture. Tomorrow is another day. Since they are playing in
the same Music Hall, I hope for the best.
Review by Michael Lyle
I arrived nice and early for the show, which i had travelled a long way
for- It was Bob Dylan in Amsterdam, and everything was set for a blissful
evening. Surprisingly, only abpout 10 % of the crowd had the same idea as
me, which was to get very high in the near-presence of Bob...and no, there
was no sign that Bob had been tempted by the local herb- instead, it was a
rather staid and formal first meeting for bob and amsterdam. I have not
seen him play for a long while, so the sight of him dancing behind a piano
was of considerable shock to me- I'd heard about, but without his guitar
bob looks, well utterly different. His movements are of the jerky and
sporadic kind, but it is in his face that i noticed the biggest change- He
now smiles a lot, and seems to be enjoying himself much more...the
environment is very stange-managed- the lights dim between evey song, and
the band seem to be having a conference in the dark, in the the center of
the stage between each song.
Then its back to positions for all concerned; everyone seemed to enjoy the
more recent material from love and theft (plus things have changed), and
the other tracks- like watchtower and LARS- had a lot less energy. Things
reached a low point with "by and by'', when everyone seemed to lose the
plot a little...in the end though, i was left wishing for a dash of
something differnet- perhaps tonight bob will have a smoke and play
"brownsville girl'' or 'dark eyes'' and finish with "froggie goes a
cortin'"...we live in hope. Finally, i'd love to know what sort of
tablets bob is taking- at least twice he appeared to be taking something
with some water from his rather chaotic table of accessories...must go for
Review by Jeroen Bol
This was my second Dylan concert and I really enjoyed it a lot. Bob was
very good in his phrasing and his voice was great tonight. He was very
careful and attentive in the verbal handling of his unique blend of folk
rock poetry and delivered a great performance with songs like Down along
the cove, Desolation row, Every grain of sand and Cat's in the well. I was
standing in the fifth row up front and had a perfect view from there on
the band and Bob himself. I was greatly impressed by the awesome way he
delivered Every grain of sand. His face expressed hundred percent
concentration, he seemed to be deadly serious and very much into it. In
the time of my confession..... A confession it was, a confession it still
is. This makes Dylan Dylan and this makes many of us his fans and
admirers: the unique soulful feeling way he can deliver a song. Creating
the reality there and then where the particular song is all about. Who can
do this like Dylan? I wouldn't know. I was surprised to hear him sing:
"I'm hanging in the balance of a perfect finished plan" instead of the cd
version I'm hanging in the balance of the reality of man". The first one
is an even clearer pointer to his faith in God. It's one of Bob Dylan's
amazing outstanding features, this personal, creative and upright way in
which he incorporates biblical phrases in his material. He did this right
from the beginning in the early sixties right unto present Love and Theft
days. Some examples from this concert:: 'I went to the church house, every
day I go an extra mile', If the Bible is right, the world will explode',
'I can see the Master's hand, in every leave that trembles, in every grain
of sand'. As a Christian I'm time and again thrilled by the way Dylan is
giving faith and God and the universal human yearning for salvation
centre stage in his art. I wanna finish trying to shed some light on the
riddle Cat's in the well is for many. I have a strong feeling that the
song is a kind of allegory on Israel. My guess is that Bob plays it every
show now because anti-Semitism is on the rise again in Europe too. A kind
of alternative Neighbourhood Bully. In the allegory the cat stands for
Israel, the wolf for all political powers threatening it. The sleeping
gentle lady stands for the Church which, as often before in human history,
fails to stand next to threatened Jews in dire situations. The dogs going
to war stand for the many nations that according to biblical prophecy in a
coming apocalypse will try to wipe out the Jewish nation. The servant at
the door then stands for the returning Messiah who will deliver the cat in
the end against all odds. Come on dear Bobcats, may the Lord indeed have
mercy on us all. The rock was very solid indeed last night. For me it's a
pointer to hang on to the Solid Rock right unto the end. Then we won't
have to be afraid of confusion, no matter how thick...
Review by Nico Tine
Visited the first Amsterdam concert (10-11-2003) and already I am sorry I
didn't see the second one. How I would have loved to hear Most Likely You
Go Your Way (and I'll go mine)..But well...you can't be lucky all the
time. Opposite to some reviews I read I liked the sound. Actually I found
it amazingly clear. Probably because I was not in the front. No, we didn't
hear much of Bob's pianoplaying, that's true, but I'm not so sure that
this was a big loss. I really loved the band, and I was impressed by the
way Bob was singing the many newer songs and 'specially all the fast rock
songs. To be honest: most of the old time favourites where terrible: Bob
getting into this going UP UP UP on the end of each line. I sometimes
wonder if he does this on purpose just to show us how annoying it is to
sing these songs over and over again. But as a rock and roll singer he was
superb. And luckily there was a lot of that. Suddenly it flashed to me:
finally he is back were he started, singing rock and roll on a high school
night: loud and weird. That's probably why he looked so satisfied most of
the night. He was doing what he likes most.
Review by Toby Richards-Carpenter
"Into The Music"
Great Dylan shows takes different forms, but this first Amsterdam show stakes
its claim. It was one of those shows where the level of performance was
consistently very high, and which rose on two, three, maybe four occasions,
to hold-on-tight GREATNESS.
The jewel in this crown, for me, was 'Desolation Row'. Rather than fit the words
into a pattern established by the guitars, the song hung off the lyrics. From
the opening line, Bob was elongating the words and spinning new tunes and
suggestions as he went. Frankly, I couldn't believe what I was hearing - Bob's
singing seemed about the most audacious, yet controlled, I'd ever heard. A
Bob had been committed from the moment he stepped on the stage - committed to
his vocals, delivering 'Down Along The Cove' and 'Cry A-While' with menace, and
'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue' with tenderness and concern. 'Desolation Row',
however, upped the game - from this point on, Bob made a consistent theme of
drawing out the words as far as he could, stretching each syllable to his lungs'
limit. Bob's glorious singing was the central triumph of the evening's performance.
There were many arrangements that were new or pretty new, mainly to the '60s songs,
and they veer towards a soft, rounded, sensitive interpretation as a foundation
for an improvised vocal. 'Girl From The North Country' and 'Love Minus Zero / No
Limit' in particular have this feel. Bob reached high for the notes of 'Girl From
The North Country', and grabbed most of them. 'Love Minus Zero' was immaculately
constructed, even if the way Bob crooned 'Statues made of matchsticks / Crumble
into one another' would break your heart.
The heavier rock numbers, by contrast, continue their stampede, assaulting the
audience with mighty stop-start tempo changes: 'Honest With Me' and a devastating
'Highway 61 Revisited' were the main culprits. 'Highway 61' wasn't a great vocal
from Bob, but Larry and Freddy's blazing guitars made the point.
It's true the level of musicianship has gone down a notch since Charlie Sexton
left the band. Freddy Koella isn't half as good a player. This, however, gives
the performances an element of risk that Bob thrives on. Bob interacted a lot
with Freddy last night, and seemed inspired by the bungled guitar solos that
punctuated the rhythm. Likewise, Bob treated his piano more like a toy than a
musical instrument, pounding or caressing it according to his fancy, but seldom
with any sense of purpose. The grandeur and elegance of the Sexton band has been
lost, but a sense of purpose has returned.
Bob was in fine humour all evening, laughing with George especially, from the
opening song. It was lovely to see him having such a good time. He was also
confident directing the band musically - Tony got hand signals and nods throughout
'Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum', and George was pointed at throughout 'Summer Days'.
Bob also took the trouble to move to centre stage between songs for a 'team
meeting' with his players. He was less interested in the audience, however, who
were granted not so much as a wave or bow at the end of the main set or encores.
Bob simply disappeared behind the drum kit and left the stage.
'Every Grain Of Sand' was, for me, the second highlight of the show (behind
'Desolation Row'). Admittedly it's a song I'd been longing to hear, but Bob took
the whole audience on a voyage with this one. It was a vocal performance that
accumulated, and when the final verse came sweeping in we could all feel 'the
motion of the sea' as Bob guided us throught he storm. Then Bob picked up his harp
and began to flit around, puffing a few thin, tentative notes - before settling for
just two of them. He began to move between two high harmonica notes, and kept up
the momentum, oscillating between these two points of reason. The resonance became
The encores worked well, particularly when 'Cat's In The Well' was concluded with
the opening drum shot of 'Like A Rolling Stone' which meant that, sooner than
expected, the audience was swaying and clapping and grinning. Bob is thriving in
his new musical environment. He's exploring the limits of his songs from new
directions, with fresh vigour. Don't you dare miss it!
Review by Marco Van Bergen
For now's the time for your tears.
Indeed, finally I did hear and see Bob in person, three days ago in
Amsterdam. I've seen the Doors when Jim was still alive, I've seen Robbie
and the Band in the same city decades ago in one of the greatest concerts
ever. Mind you I'm 54, (one more decade to go, ringo) And now in the
Heineken Hall in our fair capital I've met Bob and his Band, at last.
Ok let's get serious, the harps can go, Little Walter is tired spinning in
But the subtle guitar lick of Larry in the opening "Down Along The Cove"
is still spinning in my ear. Eat you heart out White Stripes. Because I
was at the front left of the stage and because of the lonely mike at
center stage I've been hoping to see Bob there, but you guest it, Bob
didn't leave his electric piano, so I went back, took a heineken (what
else) and infiltrated the cowds in the middle to hear a great "Cry
Awhile", with great slide. And then it took me indeed some minutes to
realize that it was "It's allright Ma". Shit Bob why don't you stick to
your album versions! But OK you're right I'm a piece of conservative shit.
"Ouwe hippie", my kids tell me. You get the picture.
Highway 61, well what can I say, it rocked like hell.
Love Minus Zero, my all time favorite, chills.
After the programmed break Like A Rolling Stone, by then I was already
knocked out. Please come back next year.
Marco Van Bergen
Review by Jeff Dellin
The first show in Amsterdam was a success. Bob was in fine form, very with
it, singing quite well. Sounding clear.
The venue is pretty decent. It is a fairly spacious room with two levels
of seats in the back. Young people with kegs strapped to the backs
dispensing beers at a reasonable 2 Euros a pop.
It sounded to me like the band was on from the first note. Down Along The
Cove was quick, but strong and there was no hesitation going into a much
improved It's All Over Now, Baby Blue. During Baby Blue, Bob even added a
"ha!" or a "yeah"! after some of the lines which was very cool to see. The
band kept it together through most of the set including a clean and dead
on Desolation Row. They seemed to lose a bit during Bye and Bye, one of
the only times Freddie had trouble keeping up. He did a very good job for
the most part. It's obvious that Bob relies on him a lot and pushes him to
take solos he might not be able to pull off. But he didn't falter much at
all last night, making it more enjoyable.
During the few first numbers Larry was more out front than I had seen him
in some time and seeming to be having a great time (a rarity). I was
hoping that it would keep up for the whole show buy alas, except for a few
great flashes, he seemed to be pushed to the background for much of the
Highlight for me was Girl From The North Country. Just a gorgeous version,
as tender as any live performance I have seen of any song at any stage of
Bob's career. Desolation Row was also a stand-out.
I liked that they don't stop playing between Cat's In The Well and Like A
Rolling Stone. Last night they had a seamless transition which really
worked unlike to rough transitions I have seen into LARS.
Overall, I thought the performance was very good. Not a concert for the
ages, but very strong all around. The band sounded better than they did in
New York this summer. The sound was cleaner, not muddied by so many
guitars. And Bob again was in fine form. Maybe it was the superior sound
in the venue but the band sounded as good as I have heard in the current
line-up. It seemed effortless, no confusion, very few flat moments. I
could make out 90% of the lyrics last night which is better than my normal
page by Bill Pagel
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